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Jarod strolled down the street, holding back a smile. That idiot of a police officer had been no match for him. As he passed a dark alley, he jerked to a halt when he heard a muffled scream. He looked around, but the other people ducked their heads and kept walking. One kid stopped and started pulling on Jarod's arm.
"Just forget it man. I'm telling you, you don't want to get involved."
Jarod frowned, confused. He couldn't be serious. He turned down the alley and cautiously edged his way towards a deadend where he heard angry voices and an occasional thud. He stopped and listened silently.
"You will do this job!" the voice yelled.
Jarod started with the realization that the other voice was a teenage girl's.
"Please," she begged. "Don't make me do this."
Jarod started around the corner, just in time to see a middle-aged man hit the girl in the face, knocking her against the wall. She hit her head and slumped to the ground, motionless.
"Hey!" Jarod yelled, running forward. The stranger spun, glowering, but he took one look at Jarod’s face and turned white as a sheet. He turned and ran down the alley, tripping over some trashcans. Jarod didn’t have time to think about the man’s strange behavior. He suddenly remembered the teenage girl and turned to see her lying in a growing pool of blood with a gash just above her left eye. He ran over and gently turned her on her back, feeling her pulse. She was alive. Her breathing was ragged and she had horrible bruises and scars covering her face and arms, showing years of terrible abuse. He looked around and realized that he was under his building. He lifted the girl gently from the ground, along with her pack, and carried her up the emergency stairwell and into the room he was renting. When he got there, he placed her on the sofa and went to the sink to get a washcloth to wash the cut on her face. As he tenderly cleaned away the grime and dirt from her face, he thought of the time his sister had fallen when their parents had been out. He had had to help her into the house and clean her up. She had told him that she wouldn’t be afraid as long as he stayed with her.
Suddenly, the girl woke up screaming, and seemed even more afraid when she saw Jarod. She tried to get up, but slumped backwards with a moan. Jarod tried to talk to her.
"It’s ok," he soothed. "I’m not going to hurt you."
She calmed down and sat up again, more slowly this time, and sat with her head in her hands. Jarod stared quietly at her, trying to decide whether to ask what he so desperately wanted to know.
"What did that man want?" he asked finally.
She looked at him, seeming to measure him up. Finally, she shook her head sadly.
"Could I have some water, please?" she whispered.
Jarod frowned thoughtfully as he pulled a glass from the cabinet. What was it this girl felt so guilty about? As he handed her the cup, he picked up the cloth and started to clean her face again. She jerked away and shielded her face, her eyes wary.
"It’s all right," he said again.
She slowly lowered her hand and let him clean and bandage the cut. It was so strange. Every time he tried to be kind to her, she only seemed to get even more upset. She sat staring into space for a long time until Jarod finally asked, "What is your name?"
She seemed to suddenly remember he was there and hesitantly held out her glass.
"Could I have some more?"
He sighed, exhasperated, but nodded. He went to the sink and noticed a rustling sound behind him and turned to see the girl digging around in the pack he had found lying beside he, but thought nothing of it. As he turned to give her her drink, she was standing, leaning against the arm of the sofa with her hands behind her back. He walked toward her, holding out the glass.
Without warning, she lashed out, plunging a needle into his arm. The glass fell and shattered on the floor, but Jarod didn't hear it. The sedative seeped through his blood and he stared at the girl, not understanding, as she sat heavily on the sofa, tears streaming down her face. Then the blackness of unconciousness closed around him and everything was gone.
The girl watched the kind stranger fall to the floor and hated herself for betraying his trust. She sat for a long moment, wanting to stop, to run away from what she had done. But that was impossible, he would never let her go. She quickly brushed away the tears and cleared her throat, she couldn't let him know she had been crying. She dialed a number and waited for a moment. When the voice came on the other line, she turned white and cleared her throat again. Then she informed Mr. Lyle that his package was ready.